Should You Fill in the Cracks as a Freelancer? Handling Down Time

As a freelancer, every once in a while I have a couple of hours where I would have liked to have scheduled work for a client but I wind up with nothing. Over the years, I’ve taken a couple of different approaches to this sort of crack in my time: I’ve been known to take those hours off, to work on my own projects and to even pick up work on bid sites. There no single way that freelancers should handle spaces in our schedules, but there are a few factors that can be key to deciding what approach will be most beneficial in the long run.

Your Goals As a Freelancer

Many freelancers keep a number in mind — an amount that we must wind up with in our pockets at the end of the week or the end of the month. That number may mean the difference between paying all the bills. If not having paying work for every hour you’ve set aside for clients means that you won’t meet the number that you have in mind, it can quickly feel like your options are limited. Such a situation can make something like writing for a content mill or offering a low bid on a bidding site feel like the best choice. It may mean that you could wind up working even more hours than you’ve initially scheduled, at a lower rate than you usually work at, but it means that all the bills get paid.

We do what we have to do to make sure that the bills get paid. If, though, there’s some flexibility in your schedule, taking on more work — especially low-paying work — may not be the most effective use of your time. A little extra marketing done this month can help keep a similar problem from occurring next month. Similarly, investing some time in your own projects can help you meet your long-term goals a little sooner than just trying to fill in the hours with work from clients. It’s important to take a look at your options and decide what will really help you accomplish what you need to during the free hours in your schedule.

The Need for Down Time

The hardest thing for many freelancers to shoehorn into our schedules is down time — time away from our work. But when you are essentially being paid to be creative on demand, taking some time for yourself is important. If a few hours come up empty, using them to recharge can mean that you don’t have to face writer’s block, burn out or other issues that can slow down your work.

The forms that useful down time take differ from freelancer to freelancer. Going to a museum and seeing how other people can be creative can help one freelancer, while another can benefit from just getting out of the office and thinking about anything but work. If you can take advantage of it, a hole in your schedule can be an opportunity to find a little extra down time.

The Flexibility of Freelancers

One of the benefits of having a freelance career is that we have flexible schedules. That includes not only time when we want to do something other than work, as well as hours when we’re willing to work but just don’t have anything on the schedule. It’s the trade-off of that flexibility and it’s important to find ways to turn it to our advantage. That can mean doing something to land more clients in the future, working on a side project that will bring us passive income in the future or just taking the opportunity to make sure that we don’t burn out.

Posted via email from AndyWergedal